Gigi and Rao: Vegas Part 2

Upon arrival I wanted a quick bite to hold me over until our 9:15p reservation at Rao’s (pronounced ray-ohs). I sat at the bar at The Palm and had a Gigi Salad (chopped shrimp, string beans, tomato, onion and bacon tossed in a vinaigrette). I realize it’s a chain, but it’s conveniently located in the Forum Shops.
Later that night our party of eight was actually on time for our Rao’s reservation. At this point, after a few drinks, everyone was excited to get the trip started (read: to start gambling) so enthusiasm for the meal wasn’t overwhelming. Regardless, our table wasn’t ready yet so we grabbed drinks at the bar. We chatted with a caricature of a mafioso New Yorker who served as the maitre d’. We asked him for pointers on the menu and he offered the lemon chicken, any of the veal dishes, the peppers, the mozzarella and of course, the meatballs.
About twenty minutes later we were seated at a round table in one of the ’10-table rooms’ decorated to look like the original East Harlem location. They were out of our first two wine choices (which we thought might have been a ruse to get us to spend more on a more expensive bottle, but they suggested an even cheaper bottle). The wine wasn’t good. Starting off on the wrong foot…
We ordered family style: spaghetti with meatballs, veal parmesan, osso bucco and lemon chicken. The meatballs were delicious but the sauce was watery, cutting the flavor in half.
The veal parm was outstanding. I think we each could have eaten our own order and been completely satisfied. The lemon chicken was abundant with flavor but very dry and the osso bucco left a lot to be desired in flavor and texture. For dessert we ordered something, maybe tiramisu- I honestly don’t remember because by this point I was drunk.There is a gift shop set up to the left of the entrance AND there is a table display of items for sale in the restaurant by the bar.
Other ambiance enhancing decor included signed photos from superstars like Meadow Soprano and Chuck Zito.
Overall the service was less than stellar. The waiter didn’t seem to want us there, possibly pegging us a difficult table because of the large size and loud volume. Regardless, in Vegas I expected more. Rao’s felt like a storefront masquerading as a restaurant, however I’ll give them another shot some day with a smaller party.

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